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Education Old: Destination Graduation

Our Results*

children ready for kindergarten
middle school students on track to graduate
of children tested improved screening scores

* Cumulative data from FY 2012-2016. Not all unique individuals.


Our Strategy


Ensure children enter kindergarten with the appropriate academic and social foundation while preparing middle school students to enter high school on track to graduate.

Learn More

In six years, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago helped ensure more than 50,000 underperforming middle school students enter high school achieving at grade level and on track to graduate.


The Facts

Learning gaps in children can present themselves as early as 18 months. Children from low-income communities are particularly vulnerable to starting school behind their peers, and may then struggle to keep up as they move from grade to grade. At-risk children who do not receive high-quality early childhood education are 25% more likely to drop out of high school and 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. High school dropouts are 72% more likely to be unemployed as compared to high school graduates.

  • 25,777 3rd graders in Cook and DuPage counties are not meeting state standards for reading
  • 13% of 9th graders in Cook County are not on track for success in high school
  • 17% of students in Cook County do not graduate

What We're Doing

United Way focuses on early learning and middle school supports so children and their families start school ready-to-learn and enter high school on track for graduation.

To achieve our goal, United Way focused on the following strategies:

  • Expand resources for high-quality preschool and home visits so children start kindergarten with a strong foundation in language, motor skills and socio-emotional development
  • Support at-risk middle school students and their families with academic resources, after school enrichment programs and physical and mental health services
girl student

In our experience, no one agency or program can improve graduation rates alone. Our role as funder and coordinator allows us to provide a network of services that directly improve educational outcomes through practical partnerships with nonprofit agencies, businesses, government agencies and human service organizations.

Partner Agency Investments

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago invests almost $7.8 million in 70 nonprofit agencies across the region that provide high quality early education and middle school programming to start and keep kids on track for successful learning, and ultimately, graduation.

  • After-School All-Stars/Association House of Chicago
  • Aunt Martha’s (Youth Service Center and Health Center)
  • Austin Childcare Providers’ Network/B.U.I.L.D., Inc.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township/Breaking Free, Inc.
  • Bremen Youth Services
  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC)
  • Carole Robertson Center for Learning
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Center for Community Academic Success Partnerships
  • Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago
  • Center for Independence through Conductive Education
  • Changing Worlds
  • Chicago Child Care Society
  • Chicago Commons Association
  • Chicago Youth Centers
  • Childcare Network of Evanston (LNE)
  • Children’s Center of Cicero-Berwyn, Inc.
  • Children’s Home + Aid
  • ChildServ
  • Chinese American Service League (CNL)
  • Christopher House
  • Citizen Schools Illinois
  • City Year
  • The Community House
  • Corazon Community Services
  • Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region
  • El Valor
  • Enlace Chicago
  • Erie Neighborhood House
  • Esperanza Community Services
  • Family Focus Inc.
  • Gads Hill Center
  • Gary Comer Youth Center
  • Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
  • HandsOn Suburban Chicago
  • Harold Colbert Jones Memorial Community Center
  • Illinois Action for Children
  • Infant Welfare Society of Evanston/Instituto del Progreso Latino
  • Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago/Lawrence Hall Youth Services/Metropolitan Family Services
  • Namaste Charter School
  • Oak Park & River Forest Day Nursery/Outreach Community Ministries/Partnership for Our Communities/ Parenthesis
  • Project: VISION, Inc.
  • Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC)
  • Restoration Ministries, Inc.
  • The Salvation Army (Move in Alpha order)
  • SGA Youth & Family Services
  • Southwest Organizing Project
  • Spark
  • Teen Parent Connection
  • The Center Resources for Teaching and Learning
  • The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
  • The Children’s Place Association
  • The Resurrection Project
  • Tri-Con Child Care Center
  • Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community/ YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN)/ Youth Crossroads, Inc.
  • Youth Guidance
  • Youth And Opportunity United (Y.O.U.)
  • YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

The Education Challenge

Thank you to our generous partner Exelon for contributing $150,000 to the Education Challenge Grant.

Exelon will match a direct donation to our Education Initiative $1 to $1 up to a total of $150,000.

  • Helping children enter kindergarten ready to learn
  • Preparing underperforming middle school kids to enter high school ready to succeed